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Showing posts from 2012

Considering the Future

We have come to the last day of this year and today for sure is a day we think about next year. Just a few hours will pass and we will begin again the journey through the months and seasons of a New Year. And in all of it, what will have changed for any person? We will take our passions, bills, dreams and problems into the New Year. As much as it is different, it will be the same, but that will not be the case when God ends all New Years.
When God creates the new heaven and earth everything will change:
No more need for the salt seas that cover two-thirds of earth's surface. "No longer any sea." Revelation 21:1
No longer capitals for each nation for "The new Jerusalem" will come down out of heaven from God..." Revelation 21:2  It will be the capital of the earth.
No more thirst for "I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life." "flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city…

Perfect Love

In this season, the creation of the body of Christ is our focus and well it should be because it becomes the sacrifice given for our sins. Consider the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, and the perfect love that was necessary for Him to link himself eternally to a body.
Before the beginning He existed. He is the creator of the heavens and earth. He is the Angel of Jehovah who comes down to connect with individuals. He was in the fire of Moses' burning bush. He wrestled with Jacob on his way back to reconcile with his brother Esau. He makes the decision to be the One born of Mary, a young virgin girl. His body is used to communicate to his disciples; to be an example before them; and to reason with those who opposed Him.
This body was not discarded at death but resurrected into a new eternal body. He revealed it to his disciples post resurrection. He ascended in this body to heaven. He today greets weary earthly sojourners in this body when they enter the gates of heaven. T…

Resurrection

It is clear that the grave is not the end of any person; that there is eternal life or death that will be the final state of everyone who has ever lived. Hebrews 9:27 states it this way, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment..."
At the end of the Tribulation period, in Revelation 20:4d-5, John makes this statement concerning Tribulation saints, "They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection."
The first resurrection to eternal life began with Christ and has several stages. In Acts 26:23 it states, "that the Christ would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim light to his own people and to the Gentiles." Now we know that Jesus resurrected several people in his lifetime, including a small boy and Lazarus, but they were not resurrected to a new body but were given back their physic…

Delight God

What is it that causes God pleasure? What delights the One who has created all things? The Psalmist gives us an answer, he says, "His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love." (Psalm 147:10-11)
God has made the horse strong. It is used in battle to run over the enemy. It seems to have no fear as it crushes men under its hoof. The Lord has also made man but many seek to make their body a specimen of strength. They work the muscle groups until there is very little fat left on the body and in this physical strength man begins to trust. These do not delight God for they focus on the creation rather than the creator.
What God delights in is a person who fears Him. Used in the sense of respect and reverence, we see God finding pleasure in individuals who not only fear him but also put their hope in Him, not in themselves or their own strength.
God delights in …

Giving Thanks

How powerful, incredible, responsible, resourceful and caring is the Lord God Almighty? We can look to the creation of the Earth and the galaxies in the heavens as examples of His power. We can know that the Son came to the earth He created to be born and eventually die on a cross and be resurrected on the third day because He cared for all men.
And here is another way we see His responsibility and resourcefulness, "The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing." (Psalm 145:15-16)
From bison to baboon, fish to foul, tiger to tortoise, microbe to mammoth, including every human, north, south, east, and west, you supply food "at the proper time." You have created the grains, fruits, vegetables and much more as nutrients for health of the body. Food is a gift of God, so, this is why we stop and thank Him before we eat. We cannot "bless the food" that is already done…

Preparedness

Are you ready for the Lord to return? He has promised to come back and to rule for one-thousand years from Jerusalem. There is a sense of preparedness that the people of God should always have. It is living with the anticipation of His return.
This challenge of being prepared is also given to those in the Tribulation who will face enormous trials. In the midst of the seven bowls which are the last of three sets of judgments, after the sixth angel has poured out his bowl which dries up the Euphrates River allowing evil hordes to pass easily to the final battle of Armageddon in Israel, the Lord calls out to His people.
"Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed." (Revelation 16:15)
There will not be warning of the exact time Christ will return in triumph. It is suggested that individuals "stay awake," or not slumber (whether that means just physically or includes ment…

Security

Where do you find security for yourself? What do you need to feel and be secure? Our time is full of security systems which guarantee protection and comfort. We are worrisome about intruders who would steal our stuff whether it is our car, home furnishings, valuables, or whether it is important documents at work or goods stored in a warehouse.
We spend lots of dollars on systems to keep this from happening but thieves still break into the most elaborate security systems and computers are still compromised by programming geniuses. It seems nothing is safe. This is our state of affairs; our problem in finding security.
But it doesn't have to be that way for you and me. The psalmist proclaims, "Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you." (Psalm 143:9) First is recognition that He is the only place to go. Second is honoring Him as Lord, ruler, master of your life. Third is making the willful decision to rest in Him; to "hide" our life in the only O…

Proper Complaining

Who is allowed to know your inner feelings? For some of us it is no one. We hold our heart so close and don't reveal our feelings to anyone. We trust no one with our pain.
But there is One who can be trusted with our pain, with our disappointments, and with our personal expectations...it is the Lord. The psalmists examples this for us in Psalm 142:1-2 when he says, "I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble."
God is ready to hear you story. He is able to listen and wait on you to finish pouring out you innermost troubles. He is available 24/7/365.It is proper to complain to Him for He is the only One who can do anything about it, plus, it is good for you to release your pain, troubles and requests. It is good to get them out of your mind; to speak them aloud so that you can hear them in your ears. Possibly there will be no immediate, noticeable change around you but there can be an inn…

Advocate and Adversary

There is a perpetual hearing going on at the Throne of God in regards to those who are a part of the people of God. It is illustrated clearly in Zechariah 3:1, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his side to accuse him."
Satan comes and goes before the Lord. The sacrifice of Christ has made it possible for evil to stand in the presence of God, at least for a time. So, Satan stands there not to advocate for us but to accuse us. God is the judge, Jesus is our defense attorney (1John 2:1) and Satan is the prosecuting attorney. Satan roars (1Peter 5:8) and reviews all our sins before God. He stands beside to deride not to praise. Note his purpose concerning Job in Job 1:6 and 2:1. He seeks to deny us the grace of the Father.
Jesus is our advocate, speaking on our behalf.He has paid the debt we owe. He is totally able to defend us before the Father. Stephen saw him there soon after the resurrection (Acts 7:56) as he…

Reason for the Season

Many years ago comedian Flip Wilson coined the phrase "The Devil made me do it!" This became a popular restatement as they looked for an excuse for their wayward ways.

There is a connection between the Devil and humans as is stated in Revelation 12:9 when it says, "who leads the whole world astray" and 1John 5:19 when John stated that "the whole world is under the control of the evil one."
When we tie the sinfulness of man through Adam and Eve's decision in the garden with the perpetual influence of the Devil who entices us to evil, we can say that we, the human race, are in grave danger. It is only by the grace of God that we are saved from this double trouble. 1John 3:8 states, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." God sent his Son into the world "that we might live through him." (1John 4:9)He is the reason for the season of Christmas. Let us rejoice in this season that the Son was made flesh an…

Watching You

Person of Interest is a weekly TV series that centers on the governments capability to be "Big Brother watching you" all the time. The two men who star in the show have the ability to tap into the system and use it for good rather than for evil. It's an interesting take on a seemingly omniscient electronic system.
However much truth at present is in a system like this existing, God can do better. In Psalm 139 there is a powerful picture of the omniscience (all knowing) and omnipresence (everywhere presence) of God.
"O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord. You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." (Psalm 139:1-6)
Consider the fact that God knows you better t…

Bad People

Throughout the Bible by the hand of His authors God brings powerful pictures of the badness of the human heart. That is true especially in the book of Proverbs where clear and concise pictures are revealed of dark-hearted people. Here we see four contenders for the trophy:
"There are those who curse their fathers and do not bless their mothers; those who are pure in their own eyes and yet are not cleansed of their filth; those whose eyes are ever so haughty, whose glances are so disdainful; those whose teeth are swords and whose jaws are set with knives to devour the poor from the earth, the needy from among mankind." (Proverbs 30:11-14)
Disobedient and inconsiderate children get the first nod for the trophy. These are children that curse their fathers who protect and provide for them and do not bless the woman who carried them to the point of birth.
Second, are those who are self-righteous. They never do anything wrong in their own eyes considering every action that they perfo…

Thanks Unending

There is some repetition noticed in particular Psalms but none can match the repetition of the refrain of Psalm 136. It is the same every time, possibly because this Psalm was written to be used in worship. A variety of individuals could speak the first half of every verse but the whole body would easily raise the words of that last half: "His love endures forever."
This response is given to the position of God and His various actions. He is the God of gods, the creator, rescuer, victor, the friend when we have need, and the God of heaven and His love is to His people and extends beyond them to a world of people. "For God so loved the world." (John 3:16)
Why these 26 repetitions of the same refrain? We know that it takes at least 21 days to create a habit and more to break one. We also know that we are more ungrateful than thankful about all that surrounds us. The creation in all its colors and seasons we seemingly ignore daily. Sure we are interested in if it's …

Remember

What do you remember about the passing years of your life as a believer? We have short memories and often accuse God of being the cause of the problems we have experienced. Israel did the same thing.
In Micah 6:5 the scene is a courtroom and the mountains have been called to judge God's handling of the people of Israel. In this verse Micah defends God by saying, "My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord."
Balak requested of Balaam a curse upon the people of Israel but Balaam gave a blessing to Israel. God was not going to allow Israel to be cursed so he spoke these words of blessing out of Balaam's mouth.
Shittim was the area where the people of Israel camped before crossing over the Jordan River into the promise land. Here Joshua became their new leader and the 2 ½ tribes requested their inheritance be on the east side of the…

War

Do you wonder why God allows certain actions to take place on the earth? Do you ask the question, "How can anything positive be seen in the actions of war?" These are perplexing questions and Micah gives us insight into an answer for them.
Micah 4:11-12 states, "But now many nations are gathered against you [Israel]. They say, 'Let her be defiled, let our eyes gloat over Zion!' But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord; they do not understand his plan, he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor."
From the nations perspective they are gathering to destroy Israel, a passion that is instilled in them by Satan himself. However, as indicated, they do not know or understand the purpose of God in their own gathering. He will use it to punish them, harvest and destroy them.
They are totally unaware of His purpose which will be accomplished by their own will. Albert Barnes in his notes on Micah says it this way, "God gathers them, not by constrai…

Rebellion

There is a great picture of rebellion in one verse of the book of Jonah. "But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord." (Jonah 1:3)
This is one of the most descriptive verses in the Bible. It begins with the word "but" which means something happened before that he didn't want to do. We know the Lord commanded him to go to Nineveh of Assyria and preach to the people to repent. Jonah didn't want to because this people had been destructive to his nation Israel. He knew God was compassionate but did not desire compassion for Nineveh's residents.
So Jonah "ran away" which is almost comical because how can you run away from the God who is everywhere present. He even had a destination; a place he felt would be safe for him to "hide." Tarshish is believed to be Tartessus in the sout…

Fear of Man

Here is one of the hardest lessons to understand. A person can fear another human more than he fears God. Strong warriors that have braved horrific battles cringe in fear of their ruler. Believers ask the question when faced with the thought of witnessing to a friend, "what will he think of me?"

We can look at  many great rulers and see how they manipulated good men through fear. These warriors were kept in bondage by their leader and it caused them to sacrifice their conscience. Think of all those who did terrible acts under the direction of Adolf Hitler. Read about the power of the Roman rulers. Of all fears, this one is the hardest to overcome.
But, what does break the power of fear of man? It is fear of God. "Fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe." (Proverbs 29:25) Faith in God is the overcomer of fear of man. See Stephen facing martyrdom and Joseph alone and in slavery keeping their faith in God.
Faith unbinds the soul f…

Pride

The very nature of this word is defined by the one letter that stands in the middle, "i". William Barclay, a well-known Bible commentator said, "Pride is the ground in which all the other sins grow, and the parent from which all the other sins come."
One of the simplest statements made in the book of Proverbs is this, "A man's pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor." (Proverbs 29:23) Lot, Saul, Sampson, Herod, Simon the sorcerer, Diotrephes and I'm sure you can name others were brought low in their life as reported in the Scriptures. Each one lifted himself up and sought praise only to be destroyed by these thoughts and actions.
But consider the other end of the spectrum. Review the lives of Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, Zacchaeus, Stephen and again you can probably think of many others. They held their life in check. They did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord and were blessed because of it.
Pride is considered by many to b…

Secret Sin

Sitting in a room and watching two people over in a corner talking about something, laughing and whispering, wouldn't you like to know what they are saying? People walk down the street and pass by you, some are smiling, others are deep in thought, wouldn't you like to know what is going on in their minds?
We are curious about what is in the hearts and minds of others. Sometimes we are surprised by what comes out of our own hearts and minds. One thing is for sure, God knows the inner workings of every heart. In a message to the church at Thyatira where secret sins were being kept, Jesus Christ, the head of the church, said, "I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." (Revelation 2:23)
Not only would Jesus Christ judge the deeds that were the outcome but he searched the innermost parts of their souls to find their beginning point. There is no hiding place for sin, no drawer in which it can be placed, no door behind which…

Reward

Is it worth being a believer in this time? Although we have not yet experienced the suffering that first century believer's did it may be coming in the near future. How will you do when it does come?
John the Apostle wrote down the words of Jesus the resurrected Lord to seven churches in Asia Minor (now called Turkey). In his message to Smyrna he expressed the Lord's concern for this church and emphasized the point that he (Jesus) knew what they were going through and what they would be going through in the future.
There was affliction, poverty, slander and persecution coming upon these believers. Three things would be encouraging for them to know at this point: one, their Lord knew about it and he also had experienced it even to death and then "came to life again" (Revelation 2:8) so resurrection follows suffering; second, they would "suffer persecution for ten days" (Revelation 2:10:b) so it would be a short rather than long period of time; and three, a &qu…

Vision-less

When a society loses its vision, its dream of what it wanted to be when first created, then that society falls into destruction. We see this played out in empire after empire from the days of Babylon to the days of German Nazism, Russian Communism, and the American dream. The people of Israel chose to have a king like other nations and move away from the Law that God gave to rule them and they went the way of other nations.
The famous verse that expresses this downfall is, "Where there is no revelation [vision], the people cast off restraint [perish]; but blessed is he who keeps the law." (Proverbs 29:18) The word "vision" is one that is commonly used of the revelation of God's will made to and through the prophets. These persons spoke of sin and penalty. They cried out about drifting away from God's Law and that judgment would come on those that drift.
There is a need for a higher teaching, one that is above us or else persons will take the law into their ow…

Perseverance

For a lot of us who have tried to climb a mountain, we have quit before we got to the top. We have begun a race but not finished and therefore not experienced the joy and reward that completion brings.
We wanted it to be easy, but easy does not bring the end we really want. Life can be hard, work can be arduous, but being faithful in your responsibilities no matter what the circumstances is a necessity in order to receive the blessing that follows.
The psalmist said it this way, "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." (Psalm 126:6) He goes out with the emotion of hopelessness being beaten down by the process but he returns with multiple "songs of joy."
Even in his conflicted state he does what is right to do. He is going out "carrying seed to sow." The sower cannot allow any circumstances to deter him in his appointed task. He goes out with purpose even though his heart, his belief, may not…

Foolish Talk

A true test of character is the discipline or un-discipline of the tongue. Some would say that you are proved to be most honest when you share everything that is on your mind. This is a false, foolish and a deceiving notion.
Speaking our mind when we are emotionally charged such as in anger or a crazy kind of happiness can lead to disparaging and destructive words. We "just wanted to clear the air" or so we say but our words have polluted rather than purified it.
Speaking too quickly to bring judgment on a person for their actions is also considered foolish. Instead, we ought to take time to think, ponder, pray and weigh out any possible condemnation, for once the words have passed over our tongue it is impossible to take them back, leading us usually back to damage control.
Warren Wiersbe in his book on Proverbs states, "The English words 'fool' and 'folly' come from the Latin 'follis' which means 'bellows.' It also described a person'…

Safety

To what do you attribute your protection and safety? What "coincidences" have taken place in your life that have kept you from horrible ends. In Psalm 124:8 the writer attributes the protection and safety of Israel to the Lord. He says, "Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth."
The Israelites had many instances where God had to be the one delivering them. We can think of their backs against the Red Sea and Pharaoh's army bearing down on them but the sea was opened and they walked through. We can remember Balaam's blessing on them instead of curse even though his employer asked for the later. We can see David's defeat of Goliath not as a human victory but as God guiding the stone to the only place that would bring unconsciousness.
There are many more throughout the nation's history that illustrated their Lord was with them and bringing safety and protection at the right times. So, how can we apply this to our lives?
Each one …

Eternal Life

There is question by some as to whether anything happens after death. Some would like to believe that we all return to dust and that is it. Others, however, are aware of many places in the Holy Bible that declare that eternal life awaits at the end of the world for those who have already died.
Daniel was assured of it by "the one who looked like a man" in Daniel 10:16, more completely described in Daniel 10:5-6. It was stated during an explanation of the end of times for the people of Israel by this man, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt." (Daniel 12:2)It was not Daniel that made this statement but only who recorded it.
This quote allows for a person to be in one of two camps. One, is the camp whose bodies awake from death to everlasting life, and two, is the camp whose bodies awake to everlasting contempt, otherwise known as judgment and hell. The word "multitudes"…

Genuine Love

How do we know the difference between genuine love and fake love? When do we move from one to the other? These are important questions because we live in a world that sprays around the word love but in many ways stays away from really carrying it out.

John wrote, "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." (1 John 3:18) We can talk a big game about loving others. We can devise all kinds of plans and then continue to revise and enhance them but if we do nothing with those plans then our so called "love" is not real.
We can say we love others with our tongue but if in our hearts we know that we are lying and we cringe from really loving others then it is not genuine love.
Genuine love happens when our love is put into action. It is making the plans and carrying them out. It is giving our possessions/clothes, money, and/or time to those who are less fortunate or are under a momentary duress. Loving in truth is having our heart in …

Pious Prayer

What should you acknowledge about God when you come to Him in prayer? Daniel prayed in Daniel 9:4-19 acknowledging that God was "the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love.." plus he acknowledged that "the Lord our God is merciful and forgiving..."
These are the two sides of God we must understand as we lift pious prayers before Him. God is so powerful that He can do what He wants. There is nothing we can do to hinder Him. There is no bribe we can give; no promise we can make that could keep Him from exerting His power.
And yet, He is also a keeper of His word; a covenant giver and keeper. Further, He is merciful and forgiving. So He has all power but He also has complete commitment. He knows our weakness and can exert mercy and forgiveness instead of His wrath.
This is our perfect God; able to act out punishment for disobedience but willing to be there to bring us back. This is the full perspective we need to have when we go to Him in prayer. He is no…

Walk

The greatest challenge of living as a believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ. This plays out most specifically in relation to our daily walk. John explained when he said, "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (1John 2:6)
To testify that you are a Christ follower (Christian) yet live as a person or self-follower is to not understand the meaning of being a Christian. Walking as Christ walked is not an option but a must. It is not done by merely imitating the actions of Christ but by obeying the Holy Spirit that lives within you, for this is what Christ did.
Some might say, it is impossible to live as Christ lived because he had the advantage of being God; therefore his way was easier to walk than ours is. However this misses the point of his humanity. Robert Candlish said it well when he said, "What he saw, and knew, and felt, as the Son of God, made these trials of his walk all the more formidable. He, in his walk, met with far more that was f…

Revive Me

Life can get monotonous and burdensome. Bills regularly come, every day we see the same people and we get up each morning to do what needs to be done to live. Vacations can save us from the routine of life but there is another way to be more permanently revived.
The psalmist faced the burdensomeness of life. He has spent many psalms speaking about it. In one particular psalm he says, "Let me live that I my praise you, and may your laws sustain me." (Psalm 119:175) Commentators give us a better way to translate the words "let me live" and that is "revive me." He uses this same phrase in 119:154, 156, and 159 but it is translated "preserve my life."
The psalmist is asking for fresh strength to carry on his daily life with the purpose that if he receives it he can better praise the One who gave it. This is an unselfish request because praising God is at its focus. We can get so deep into the routine of life that we start living a zombie like life, go…

Conduct

What can be the impact of your conduct? How can it influence those around you and bring testimony to the God you serve?
Daniel had been an influential leader in Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar but when the Media Persian Empire overpowered Babylon and laid waste to it all leaders of that reign would have been suspect. But Daniel was not killed, instead was given a greater office as one of the three administrators over 120 governors for these new rulers.
He continued to conduct himself in a way that was consistent with his beliefs and God and distinguished himself among the other administrators and all the governors, so much so "that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom." (Daniel 6:3) But there were some that were desirous of his downfall. They tried "to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs..." but "could find no corruption in him because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent." (Daniel 6:4…

Certainty

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and the blazing furnace is a powerful story of trust and release. These men were captives from Babylon's war against Israel and were carried to Babylon along with their friend Daniel. His interpretation of the King's dream led to his rise in position and he brought these three men along with him into newly appointed positions by King Nebuchadnezzar as administrators over the province of Babylon.
But the King was always glorifying himself and built an altar and made it a requirement for all officials to bow down to it. But when these three would not bow they were confronted with the possibility of the death penalty by fire. Their response was, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O King. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O King, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18)
Several illustrations can…

Happiness

There is a way to have happiness in your life on a perpetual basis. “Well that seems a little outlandish knowing the way life goes with its ups and downs, how would this be possible?” I’m glad you asked.
“Blessed” is a word used in the Bible often that we could translate as “happy.” The writer of Proverbs suggests a way for us to be “blessed” or “happy” in his words of Proverbs 28:14, “Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.”
“Fear” as used here means respect and reverence. When we respect and reverence the Lord we listen and obey Him and that leads to a life of joy whatever the circumstances around us would be. We maintain a heart of trust and confidence that the Lord is always working on our behalf so we can always fear Him.
But, if we do not consciously reverence and respect the Lord then we are hardening our heart to Him. We become callous, unfeeling, and deny the truth and this becomes a pit difficult to get out of. It is a plac…